Sony WH-1000XM3 vs Beats Solo Pro: Which is Better?


The Sony WH-1000XM3 and Beats Solo Pro are two of the most popular and best wireless headphones that you can buy in 2020. Both of these are excellent performers but if you want to get the best bang for your buck, you cannot remain faithful to any one brand; you have to consider the pros and cons of each product. In this article, we will discuss which product would be a better buy for your needs.

The verdict: Sony WH-1000XM3 is better than the Beats Solo Pro in every way, especially in sound quality, comfort, and portability. There are a few top-end ANC headphones in the market that are as versatile as the Sony WH-1000XM3.

Before we start reviewing the two products in detail, let us look at a summary table of all their important specifications below:

CategoriesSony WH-1000XM3Beats Solo Pro
TypeOn-EarOver-Ear
EnclosureClosed-BackClosed-Back
Bluetooth version5.04.2
Bluetooth codecSBC, AACSBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD and LDAC
Noise CancellingYesYes
Battery LifeUp to 22 hrs, Up to 40 hrs (ANC off)Up to 30 hrs, 38 hrs (ANC off)
Digital AssistanceSiriAlexa
Weight9.42 oz8.99 oz
PriceCheck latest price on AmazonCheck latest price on Amazon

Sound Quality: Winner = Sony WH-1000XM3

Sony WH-1000XM3
Sony WH-1000XM3

The sound quality of the Beats Solo Pro is an improvement over the Solo 3s. It has an emphatic bass reproduction which is more suitable for listening to hip-hop, pop, or rap music genres. Bassheads would definitely love the bass-heavy sound signature but the exaggerated bass response may get a little too much for people who like a more balanced music reproduction. Experienced listeners may also notice auditory masking.

The Sony WH-1000XM3 has a very consumer-friendly sound with just the right amount of clarity and depth on the overall sound quality, and a little bit of emphasis on the low-end. The bass-boost is not as heavy as the Beats Solo Pro but would delight bass lovers nevertheless. The premium headset improves upon its equally popular predecessor, the Sony M2s because it includes better technology. 

It delivers exceptional sound quality, low distortion, and allows you to experience the best-in-class signal-to-noise ratio due to its inclusion of the HD noise-canceling processor QN1 which is integrated with a built-in-amplifier. The quality of compressed digital music files is upscaled and restored closer to High-Resolution Audio as it supports Digital Sound Enhancement Engine HX (DSEE HX™). Compared to the Beats Solo Pro, the Sony WH-1000XM3 has a more soothing high, better richness to the sound quality, and is much more balanced in its sound signature. 

Thus, if you want a premium headphone that creates enough space for the vocals, effects, and the instruments in a song to breathe while delivering a satisfying punch to the low-end frequencies, the Sony WH-1000XM3 is the obvious choice. 

Price: Winner = Beats Solo Pro

Beats Solo Pro
Beats Solo Pro

The Beats Solo Pro is considerably cheaper than the Sony WH-1000MX3. When writing this, the Beats headphone is a little over $100 cheaper than Sony’s headphone.

So if you are on a tight budget, then you might consider going for the Beats Solo Pro.

Noise Cancelling Performance: Winner = Sony WH-1000XM3

Without proper isolation, the performance of Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) technology can suffer. However, the Solo Pro does not have the same weakness as many other on-ear headphones. The headphone has a strong clamping force which allows it to provide good isolation and uses real-time audio calibration to adjust the intensity of the noise cancellation. It is also effective in blocking noises in the low end of the spectrum. Thus, compared to other on-ear headphones, the Solo Pro does a phenomenal job at blocking outside noises. However, it’s nowhere near as good at its job as the Sony WH-1000XM3.

The Sony WH-1000XM3 offers industry-leading ANC performance and beats even the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. The dedicated HD noise-canceling processor QN1 coupled with its smart noise-canceling features can effectively drown out any external noise; be it engine noise or the droning sound of an HVAC system, much more effectively than the Solo Pro without affecting your comfort. 

The Personal NC optimizer improves the experience further by taking into account the sonic characteristics caused by head size, hair, and glasses. And, when you are flying on an airplane or listening to music at a high altitude, the Atmospheric Pressure Optimizing does its wonders. Thus, if you want to enjoy the next level of silence while traveling to distant locations or commuting to your workplace, the Sony WH-1000XM3 is your best bet.

Comfort: Winner = Sony WH-1000XM3

When it comes to comfort, the Beats Solo Pro may leave you disappointed. Although it features an ergonomic design, many users have reported that the fit is too tight. This is due to its clamping force which, although good for isolation, creates too much pressure around the ears and head. Even if you don’t wear glasses, it is unlikely that you would enjoy listening to these headphones for more than an hour. Thus, if comfort is a priority, these are not a good choice for you, especially if you wear glasses.

The Sony WH-1000XM3 is comfortable to wear for long hours as they come with super-soft pressure-relieving ear pads that evenly distribute the pressure around your ear. It is also a little lighter than the Solo Pro which makes it easier to wear and carry. Overall, there is no doubt that the Sony headphone is superior to the Beats headphone in terms of comfort by a mile. 

Design and Durability: Winner = Sony WH-1000XM3

Both the Sony WH-1000XM3 and the Beats Solo Pro feature attractive designs. The Beats Solo Pro is available in six different colors – black, grey, red, dark blue, ivory, and light blue. The design is fairly streamlined with concealed hinges but features a mature appearance with the stylish Beats logo. The lack of a 3.5mm audio port may displease many users because the Lightning cable that it comes with only works with Apple products. The build quality feels premium but may not survive more than a few drops due to its overall plastic build.

The Sony WH-1000XM3 is available only in two colors – black and silver. However, unlike the former product, it has a USB Type-C port and comes with a 3.5mm audio port along with detachable cables. The build quality of the M3 feels premium due to its hard-plastic build. You can expect them to last a long time if you don’t drop them often.

It was tough to decide the winner between these products in terms of design and durability. The final call was made based on the fact that more people prefer to wear over-ear headphones than on-ear ones.

Battery Life: Winner = Sony WH-1000XM3

The battery life of both the headphones is nothing short of amazing and would please even the heaviest music listeners. However, depending on how you use the products, your experience with them may vary. The Solo Pro claims to deliver a listening time of 22 hours with ANC on and up to 40 hours with ANC and transparency turned off. On independent testing, it was able to perform for about 22 hours on a full charge at 75dB playback volume. Plus, you can enjoy up to 3 hours of music playback with just 10 minutes of charging with the Lightning cable. 

The Sony WH-1000XM3, on the other hand, was able to last for about 24 hours with ANC set to full in independent testing. Although it didn’t last anywhere close to 30 hours, it still performed better than the Solo Pro. Without the ANC turned on, you can expect the juice to last for about 38 hours continuously or about 200 hours on standby. Charging it for about 10 minutes with a 1.5-A or more AC adapter would provide it enough juice to last for about 5 hours. It takes around 3 hours to charge fully.

Thus, both the products feature great battery life. However, the Sony WH-1000XM3 is the winner because it is better where it matters the most, battery life with ANC and charge time. The only reason to buy a premium headphone is to experience exceptional ANC and features. Turning off the ANC to extend the battery life seems counter-intuitive on such premium headphones.

Controls and Functions: Winner = Sony WH-1000XM3

The Beats Solo Pro features easy to use on-ear controls for volume, track, and call on the right ear cup. Pressing on the edge above or below the Beats logo allows users to control the volume and pressing the ‘b’ logo for a few seconds allows users to access Alexa and Google. iPhone users can access Siri hands-free just by speaking “Hey Siri”. The left ear cup features the mode button which allows you to cycle between noise-canceling, transparency, and extended power mode. Folding and unfolding the headphone acts as a power toggle.

Due to the H1 chip, the firmware gets updated automatically if the product is connected to a device running iOS 10.3. For Android users, however, the process is more of a hassle. They have to download the Beats updater for Windows and complete the process manually.

When it comes to the controls and functions, there are not many headphones that can match the intuitiveness of the Sony WH-1000XM3. The right ear cup features intuitive touch controls that allow users to receive phone calls, control volume, and change tracks by swiping up and down or forward and backward. The voice assistance can be activated by a long press. You can even cover the right ear cup to instantly bring down the volume level for easy conversation. The left ear cup features only two buttons – one for power/ Bluetooth and another for adjusting the noise cancellation settings (On, Ambient Mode, Off).

Thus, the Sony WH-1000XM3 comes with much better controls than the Beats Solo Pro and offers a much better experience while listening to your favorite tracks. Plus, it’s more functional because you can listen to music on the Sony WH-1000XM3 when the battery runs out or even if you want to preserve the battery.

Features: Winner = Sony WH-1000XM3

In terms of features, the Sony WH-1000XM3 blows the Solo Pro out of the water! The best unique features of Beats Solo Pro are its Apple H1 Chip and Class 1 Wireless Bluetooth that provides a better range and helps to conserve battery life. The Bluetooth version 5.0 also allows you to connect two sets of Beats headphones so that you can listen along with a friend. Aside from that, it features a speech-detecting accelerometer and a motion-detecting accelerometer. 

Lastly, it features a transparency mode that allows the user to stay aware of their surroundings by filtering in more of the ambient noise. However, the good features are only reserved for Apple users and Android users would struggle to get reliable performance out of the codec.

Now, coming to the features of the Sony WH-1000XM3, it supports Near Field Communication (NFC) along with Bluetooth which allows for faster painting and seamless connection between streaming devices. Unlike the Solo Pro, the M3 supports additional Bluetooth codecs including aptX, aptX HD and LDAC. Thus, you can experiment with various Bluetooth codec profiles to set a suitable balance for sound quality and connectivity. The quick attention feature and touch controls of the M3 are arguably better and more functional than the simple controls of normal headphones. 

Plus, it comes with the ‘Support for Sony | Headphones Connect app’ that allows you to customize your listening experience by utilizing options such as ambient sound settings and adaptive sound control. The ‘Sense Engine’ allows the users to further personalize the sound by tweaking virtual surround sound settings, equalizer, and sound position control from inside the app. 

However, the cream on top is the inclusion of specialized ANC hardware; the QN1 HD noise-canceling processor that offers unmatched ANC performance. Atmospheric optimizing and personal NC optimizer further elevate the performance of the product. 

Lastly, the support for Hi-Res Audio due to the Digital Sound Enhancement Engine HX (DSEE HX™) allows you to experience the highest sound quality possible even with compressed audio files. It should not come as a surprise because these are the features that people expect from a high-end premium headphone and Sony has certainly made a name for itself in the market due to their innovation and quality.

Mic Quality: Winner = Sony WH-1000XM3

The microphone quality of the Beats Solo Pro is not good at all. The dual beam-forming mics don’t work well during calls and make the voice sound distant, muffled, and inaccurate. In fact, the mic of your smartphone would be a better choice to use during calls.

Although the mic quality of the Sony WH-1000XM3 is not that good, it certainly does a better job than the Solo Pro. During a call, your voice may sound a little bassier than usual to the other party but it would be understandable. If you want to use it as a gaming headset, you can use suitable software and tweak the setting to add some gain to the volume. Thus, in terms of mic performance, Sony is the winner.

Portability: Winner = Sony WH-1000XM3

Most people don’t consider portability as a factor when choosing a headphone. However, if you plan to use your premium headphone while traveling a lot, it is crucial to select a product that is more durable. There is nothing more disappointing than accidentally breaking an expensive piece of hardware due to carelessness.

Both the Beats Solo Pro and the Sony WH-1000XM3 feature a foldable design that makes them portable and easy to carry around even if you forget the carry case. The Solo Pro is a little heavier and comes in a soft carrying case that doesn’t offer great protection. If the carry case with the Beats Solo Pro accidentally drops from your hand or comes under pressure, there is a risk of damage.

The Sony WH-1000XM3, on the other hand, is a little lighter and comes with a durable hard carry case that offers much better protection to the product when you carry it around with you while traveling. 

Conclusion

The Sony WH-1000XM3 is the best headphone currently available in the market if you prefer high-end premium headphones with superior ANC performance, exceptional sound quality, exciting features, good sound customization options, and superb comfort. It is the product to choose if you have the budget to spare. It is most suitable for air travelers and commuters who listen to music daily and love a more balanced sound signature compared to bass-heavy headphones.

The Beats Solo Pro is a mid-range product but it is more affordable than the M3. It is suitable for users who prefer ANC performance and sound quality over comfort and features. iPhone users would get the most out of the Solo Pro because of the H1 chip. For Android users, buying another product would be more suitable in the budget range. However, this can be a good choice if you love to jam to music with powerful bass.

Another factor to consider is the sound leakage if you want to use the product while at the office or library. Due to the nature of the design of the Solo Beats Pro, it leaks more noise than the Sony WH-1000XM3.

Rune Bearson

As you can see, I love my headphones! I use them every day when commuting, watching YouTube videos, playing guitar/piano and doing chores. I'm a podcast addict and I like all kinds of music from metal to chillout ambient.

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